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Advice for objecting to the EPIC development

Updated: Jan 16

You can object to the proposed EPIC development here.

>> Still open for comments & objections, consultation extended to Feb 9th<<


We have put together some advice on how to structure your comment for maximum impact.


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The loss of the greenbelt, and the purposes it fulfils, are some of the main concerns about the EPIC application. The land in question is high-value greenbelt in that it: stops the unrestricted sprawl of Bristol; prevents neighbouring settlements merging into each other; protects the countryside from urban encroachment; and assists in urban regeneration by encouraging recycling of derelict and other urban land in Bristol and North Somerset.


However, in their document Counsel opinion very special circumstances, they have noted that “Epic accepts that the Proposed Development will be inappropriate development in the Green Belt for the purposes of both national and local planning policy”. Therefore, to counteract this, it is necessary for them to demonstrate ‘very special circumstances’ to permit their development.


For this reason, we would encourage anyone who is submitting an objection and comment to focus on addressing EPIC’s claimed ‘very special circumstances’:


The ‘Very Special Circumstances’ EPIC are claiming include:

  1. They are fulfilling a need for the development

  2. The development will have no impact on openness

  3. There is an absence of any alternative sites

  4. There will be significant socio-economic benefits

  5. There will be sustainability benefits


Example comment:

(Feel free to copy this comment verbatim, or to use as a guide for your own)


  1. For a close look at the ‘need’ for this development (which is defined by the Council), it is necessary to look at North Somerset Council's Draft Local Plan.

    1. Draft policy SP9 (employment) states that around 81ha of land total will be identified for business purposes to meet the local employment need. They explain that NS towns should be the main focus for employment growth, especially Weston. New business developments should only be supported in villages when they are of an appropriate scale and character. North Somerset’s 2023 study supporting their new Draft Local Plan forecasts a need for 12ha of office space between 2023 and 2043. EPIC’s proposal covers over 36ha.

    2. Draft policy DP60 (employment on greenfield land in the countryside) states that development proposals for new buildings for business use on previously undeveloped sites outside settlements will only be permitted when: 

      1. The proposal relates to processing locally grown or other land based rural business;

      2. The location has a safe and convenient access to the highway network and would not result in a significant adverse impact;

      3. The proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on the living conditions of adjoining occupiers;

      4. AND, it is demonstrated that the use could not be locked at existing settlements or that the intended use specifically and measurably benefits from the specific countryside location. 

  2. It’s clear that the development would have a significant negative impact on openness - from both the Bristol and Long Ashton directions. The exisiting site benefits from short and long distance views in all directions, from many public viewpoints. The surrounding area has few trees so the development will be highly visible - having an impact of the character of the area alongside openness. The scale, mass and footprint proposed will significantly impact on the greenbelt’s openness in this location completely changing its character. 

  3. The claim that there are no alternative sites available to EPIC is highly unlikely, especially as they explain in their proposal that they have considered other European countries as well as other UK locations. There are plenty of vacant sites: new and/or appropriate from rennovation in Bristol and North Somerset. For example, just 3.3 miles from the proposed site, JLL are marketing 65,700 Sq Ft of office space for sale at Temple Way.

  4. The argument for socio-economic benefits of the development are also over-estimated. EPIC claim that they will help North Somerset meet its employment targets. However, given the location of the site, a huge proportion of recruitment will also come from Bristol - not counting towards North Somerset’s targets. It will be impossible to recruit exclusively from North Somerset, so any employment benefits will be shared with the City of Bristol area. EPIC’s design of a ‘campus-style’ development is a self-contained site featuring it’s own food hall and recreational spaces. With such a contained design, it’s difficult to see how local businesses would benefit economically. The location is poorly linked to services, facilities, shops etc. and therefore will offer very little socio-economic benefit to local communities and their businesses.

  5. Finally, the proposed EPIC development would have some extremely negative effects on the environment and sustainability. These include increased transport congestion and air pollution combined with decreased highway safety; an increased risk of flooding in an already boggy area due to impermeable surfacing; negative effects on wildlife due to illuminated footpaths and walkways; and not to mention the huge embodied carbon cost of the construction. North Somerset Council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019, so should use this as a lens to guide their decision on the development. For more information on the impact of the proposed development on the environment, see The LANCE Trust's website.

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You can read The LANCE Trust's objection comment here.

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